Wilde about Oscar

Article excerpt

Byline: Eileen O. Daday Daily Herald Correspondent

Irish born writer Oscar Wilde may be known for such works as "The Picture of Dorian Gray," and "The Importance of Being Earnest," but a local actor and director believe Wilde's legacy lies in works created during his lowest years.

Glen Allen Pruett of Des Plaines stars in a one-man show examining Wilde's attempts to pull himself up from the depths after being imprisoned for two years in London and sentenced to hard labor on grounds of "gross indecency."

Working with Director Patricia Ansuini of Evanston, a former theater teacher at Wayne State University in Detroit and most recently of the University of California at Riverside, the pair created, "The Madness of Oscar Wilde by Sebastian Melmoth."

The free show will be staged at 5 p.m. Sunday, March 28, at First Congregational Church of Des Plaines, 766 Graceland Ave.

Their original script opens when Wilde has just been released from his incarceration, and Pruett recites from his poem, the "Ballad of Reading Gaol" (pronounced jail).

It was Wilde's last published work, written after he had exiled himself to France and lived under the assumed name Sebastian Melmoth.

"He must have been disheveled and totally distraught, and on his way down to some sort of breakdown," Pruett says, "when he found that through the medium of poetry, he somehow found his sanity and peace within himself."

When Wilde does speak in the play, the script draws from letters written while he was in prison and published in the work, "De Profundis."

Both Pruett and Ansuini insist the show is not a

recitation of his works or a history lesson about how he came to write them in the traditional sense of a one-man show. Rather, they say it examines Wilde through his works. …